March 12, 2008

Bipartisan Senate-House Resolution Recognizes the Importance of Advance Healthcare Decision-Making

Encourages members of Congress and their constituents to complete written advance directives.

Washington DC - In an effort to encourage all Americans, at all stages of their life, to discuss important end-of-life medical decisions with their loved ones, U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) and U.S Representative Phil Gingrey (R-GA) today introduced a joint-resolution to recognize National Health Care Decisions Day.

"It's not easy to talk to a family member or loved ones about what kind of medical care you'd want or not want at the end of your life. Yet everyday family members are making medical care decisions for seriously ill people who can't speak for themselves," said Senator Wyden. "Our hope is that in promoting National Health Care Decisions Day we can spare families from having to make these difficult decisions without the guidance from loved ones by encouraging them to talk about end-of-life issues and to fill out written advance directives."

"From advance medical directives, to living wills, to financial planning, Americans need to know how to prepare themselves for the unthinkable - long term illness and death," said Senator Enzi. "Health care decisions are never easy, particularly at the end of a loved one's life. Still, we need to have a national dialogue on how to discuss and document critical end-of-life health care desires and beliefs. With this resolution we hope to raise the nation's awareness and encourage families to prepare together in advance in order to spare undue hardships later on."

"Advance directives help ensure that our medical care wishes are known, even if illness or tragedy leaves us unable to express them," said Congressman Gingrey. "By preparing an advance directive, we can ease the burden on family and friends who might otherwise be asked to make difficult healthcare decisions for us. By designating April 16th as National Health Care Decisions Day, we hope to encourage adults of all ages to take a moment to consider and discuss their medical care preferences with loved ones and then fill out their own written advance directive. These sorts of decisions are never easy, but by making a tough decision now, you can save your family from an even tougher one down the road."

The bipartisan Senate-House Resolution supports the goals and ideals of National Health Care Decisions Day by encouraging health care, civic, educational, religious and other organizations to encourage individuals to use advance directives, while asking all Americans, including members of Congress to prepare advance directives for themselves. According to Nathan Kottkamp, Chair of the National Healthcare Decisions Day, fewer than 25% of all Americans have an advance directive.

At this year's inaugural National Health Care Decisions Day - which will be held on April 16, 2008 - organizations will team up across the country to not only highlight the importance of advance healthcare decision-making, but to help individuals execute written advance directives in accordance with state laws. These resources are available at

The following national organizations have already committed to participating in this annual event by encouraging their members and chapters to engage in various education initiatives on National Health Care Decisions Day:

Ascension Health
Aging With Dignity
AGIS Network
American Academy of Nurse Practitioners
American Association for Homecare
American Association of Critical-Care Nurses
American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging
American Association of Medical Colleges
American Bar Association
American College of Physicians
American College of Healthcare Executives
Association for Healthcare Volunteer Resource Professionals
American Geriatrics Society
American Health Care Association
American Health Lawyers Association
American Hospital Association
American Medical Association
American Medical Directors Association
American Nurses Association
Association of Professional Chaplains
B'nai B'rith International
Caring Advocates
Catholic Health Association of the United States
Center for Elder Justice and Policy at William Mitchell College of Law
Center for Medicare Advocacy
Center for Practical Bioethics
Center for Social Gerontology
Chinese American Coalition for Compassionate Care
Donate Life America
Duke Institute on Care at the End of Life
Federation of American Hospitals
Financial Planning Association
Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association
Medical Library Association
National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys
National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a)
National Association of Jewish Chaplains
National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers
National Association of Social Workers
National Association on Directors of Nursing Administration in Long Term Care
National Bar Association Healthcare Law Section
National Center for Assisted Living
National Family Caregivers Association
National Hispanic Medical Association
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
National Medical Association
National POLST Paradigm Initiative Task Force
National Right to Life
Oncology Nursing Society
Physician Hospitals of America
Project GRACE
Selected Independent Funeral Homes
Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network (SWHPN)
Society of Hospital Medicine
Supportive Care Coalition
NCCNHR: The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care
The American College of Chest Physicians and The Chest Foundation
The Division of Transplantation, Health Resources and Service Administration, US Department of Health and Human Services
The Hastings Center
The HealthCare Chaplaincy
The Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
The National Association of Catholic Chaplains
United States Army Judge Advocate General's Corps